When Baruch Spinoza composed his philosophical masterpiece, the
Ethics, he knew that his ideas (particularly those of God) would be considered heretical in the extreme, leading to any number of unpleasant consequences. This was the reason that the Ethics were published in 1677, posthumously (p.97)1. His apprehensions are well justified in the light of what he writes in the Appendix (p.145-149) to Part1: Concerning
God (p.129-145) regarding the prejudices present in the minds of human beings. For, it is here that Spinoza directly challenges the prevalent religious orthodoxy and seeks to remove the very dogma that was the basis of their power.
Spinoza asserts in the Appendix (p.145) that there exist certain prejudices in the minds…show more content…
(p.145). The argument regarding (1) above, is undoubtedly the most crucial and (not surprisingly) the most heretical of Spinoza’s unabashed critique of contemporary religion. The (main) reason for (1) turns out to be (as we shall see) the creation of God in the image of Man by people in their vain attempts to understand the nature of the Universe. This anthropomorphisation of God and the parallel anthropocentric view of the universe, is in essence what Spinoza concludes to be the reason for (1). The argument follows shortly (based upon p.145-6).
The key to answering (1) above, is what Spinoza calls “The Doctrine of
Final Causes” (henceforth referred to simply as ‘the Doctrine’). This doctrine is essentially the process by which the above ‘creation’ takes place. Firstly, people come into being without definite knowledge of causal relationships between things. Further, they have a strong belief in the freedom of their own will, and this belief arises from their conscious knowledge of their desires and from what they perceive as their (essentially) unstoppable drive in fulfilling them. Also, they have no inclination to investigate the cause for these desires to exist in the first place. Finally (Spinoza says), people are always focussed on their final goals,